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Renovated 19th-century sea forts hit the market

Ahoy, matey!

An aerial view of a circular fort in the middle of sea. There is a grass area, lighthouse, flags, and a boat letting off passengers. Courtesy of Colliers International

If you’ve ever dreamt of owning a massive military fort in the middle of a British strait, now’s your chance. The Solent Forts, a series of perfectly odd 19th-century forts, are now on the market for an undisclosed amount.

Sandwiched between the coast of England and the Isle of Wight, the circular forts were commissioned by prime minister Lord Palmerston in the mid-19th century to defend England’s ports against enemy attacks. After nearly 20 years of construction, the attacks never came, and the forts were later nicknamed “Palmerston’s follies” for their inutility.

Circular lounge area with a glass roof, seating, and a winding staircase on the right.
The lounge area at No Man’s Fort.

Today, two of the three forts have been transformed into high-end hotels that sit a mile out into the sea. No Man’s Fort—a 99,000-square-foot circle of a building—currently is home to 23 guest rooms, as well as a restaurants, five themed bars, a spa, and (naturally) an area dedicated to laser tag. Spitbank Fort is quite a bit smaller at 33,000 square feet and can hold up to 60 people who can use amenities including a sauna, an open-air courtyard, fire pit, and rooftop terraces.

The last fort, Horse Sands Fort, is currently being used as a history museum for all three structures. It’s the only fort with a price attached—it’s currently being sold at auction for a starting bid of just under $1 million (£750,000).

The forts’ current owner, Dreams bed company millionaire Mike Clare, spent more than three years and untold millions renovating the properties, and the properties are estimated to reach a combined sale price in excess of $10 million (£8 million).

Interior lounge area with views of sea. There are four white arm chairs and windows in a lighthouse style room.
An example of the lighthouse suite at No Man’s Fort.
Anna Kunst Photography
A hotel room features a bed, soaking tub, and furniture.
Another suite in the No Man’s Fort hotel.